New Delhi, September 29, 2017 : A new study has challenged popularly held belief that cases of child labor and violence against children are committed only in poor countries. This new research has revealed that nearly three out of four children in both, poor and rich countries alike, around the globe experience violence each year.
Issued by Know Violence in Childhood, an international advocacy group, the report is titled ‘Ending Violence in Childhood: Global Report 2017’. The report traces cases and nature of violence between the perpetrator and a child.
The study found that the menace of violence in childhood is a universal problem, and affects nearly 1.7 billion children over the course of a year. This includes bullying or fighting, sexual abuse, corporal punishment at home and in school, and sexual violence.
Shockingly, the report confirmed that violence in childhood is linked with violence against women. Children who witness abuse of their mothers are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of abuse when they grow up, it said.
The researchers focused on violence between the perpetrator and the child. They did not include violence from war and other events. They took more than three years to document the scale of violence experienced by millions of the world’s children.
The report also looked at strategies to end the violence.
Rayma Subrahmanian, executive director of Know Violence in Childhood, said children are exposed to emotional and physical punishment from as early as 2 years old.
Subrahmanian said violence is a learned behavior that is rooted in deep cultural norms. In some societies, beating is a form of discipline.
Children who are victims of violence often suffer immediate harm, but they also face lifelong physical and mental health problems — anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or attachment disorders, among others. As teens, boys are more likely to be involved with homicide and suicide. Girls are more likely to suffer sexual assault.
Violence in childhood also inflicts an economic cost on society. Know Violence in Childhood said that children who experience violence at home or at school are more likely to be absent from school or to drop out. They are less likely to succeed in life and to get an education, researchers found. Also, up to 8 percent of global GDP is spent each year on repairing the damage caused by childhood violence, the study said.
While governments can put preventive measures in place, most governments fail to invest in tackling the root causes of violence, the report said. (VOA)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he was “appalled” that more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed last year in some 20 countries at war or in a state of conflict.
The unprecedented level of violence against boys and girls was recorded in the U.N.’s annual report naming and shaming countries and armed groups that perpetrate such violence. In all, the U.N. recorded 24,000 grave violations against children in 2018, including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, recruitment and attacking schools and hospitals.
“But without a doubt, the one situation that really comes to my mind is the worst one — the one we have to do our utmost to reverse — is Somalia,” said Virginia Gamba, U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict, whose office prepares the often-controversial report.
She told reporters that the number of violations across all categories there is very high, providing a worrying picture. She said there is also a lack of engagement with the United Nations to improve protections for children, and she said she hopes to visit Somalia in the next two months to see if there is any possibility to open a dialogue.
Both the Somali National Army and the terrorist group al-Shabab, as well as the Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama’a (ASWJ), were included in the report’s annex of perpetrators.
Targeting hospitals and schools
One of the more troubling trends emerging in the 2018 report is the growing targeting of schools and hospitals from Yemen and Syria to Afghanistan and South Sudan.
“Here you can actually see the tactics of war, and we are seeing more and more armed groups on purpose destroying schools — and particularly those that engage in girls’ education,” Gamba said. “If you are destroying schools, you are destroying choices.”
She noted that on a recent visit to Mali, she spoke with youth who told her of having no education or vocational opportunities, which means they will have few job prospects. “It seems to me that there is every intention of armed groups to destroy the possibility of giving an alternative to children outside of war usage,” she said.
Treading lightly with Saudi Arabia
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has rejected its listing for its role in the Yemen war, which has led to the report’s annex being separated into two lists — one for grave violators and another for parties that are perpetrating violations but have put in place measures aimed at improving the safety of children.
Saudi Arabia is not listed by name in the 2018 report but rather as the “Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.” It is not among the most grave violators, despite the report citing numerous airstrikes that killed or maimed 685 children last year. The coalition, which has engaged with the U.N. on the issue, is among those parties that have put in place measures to protect children. The Houthi rebels who they are fighting are on the most serious offenders list.
“It’s baffling that the secretary-general’s ‘not-so-bad’ list gives credit to parties that are increasing, not reducing, their violations against children,” said Human Rights Watch children’s rights advocacy director, Jo Becker, in a statement. “Guterres should return to a single list based solely on evidence of violations on the ground.”
Israel vs. Palestinians
Israel was not listed, despite the U.N. verifying the deaths of 57 Palestinian children — 56 were attributable to Israeli forces and one to an Israeli settler — the highest figures since 2014. The report also found that nearly 3,000 Palestinian children were injured during the Great March of Return in March and April of last year, when there were daily protests at the security fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.
Gamba said the secretary-general ultimately decides who is listed, and that he has directed her office to further examine the killings and maimings of children in the Palestinian territories and to report back to him by the end of December. She is also to look into the recruitment of children by Palestinian militants.
The special representative also noted that she has repeatedly sought to engage with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and has been unsuccessful, and hoped that the secretary-general’s new directive would enable her access.
“My office was not born to name and shame and attribute, and that’s it,” Gamba said of the controversies her annual blacklist generates. “The job is to raise awareness on the plight of children and to try to prevent the violations and better protect children.” (VOA)